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‘I don’t know how we can stop ragging’: a qualitative study on the perceptions of staff and work-affiliated individuals at a Sri Lankan university, on the phenomena of ragging
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Reproductive Health and Migration.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6329-5377
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Reproductive Health and Migration.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2900-2849
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Reproductive Health and Migration.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1314-2943
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Reproductive Health and Migration.
2023 (English)In: Contemporary South Asia, ISSN 0958-4935, E-ISSN 1469-364XArticle in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Ragging in Sri Lanka is a longstanding initiation ritual, similar to hazing and bullying. The severe harassment of new students by seniors has led to adverse consequences including depression, university dropouts and suicide. Although, a significant problem, research on ragging is scarce. This research aimed to explore how staff and work-affiliated individuals at Jaffna University resonate around the phenomenon of ragging. Seven focus group discussions and eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis and Bandura’s Moral Disengagement theory were used to interpret the data. Three main discourses reflected the context: ragging as normal and necessary, insecurity and fear of reprisal, and voices of resistance. Participants often felt unsupported and therefore adapted their moral compasses to survive in this insecure environment. These findings demonstrate a fragmented approach to ragging that not only diminished any efforts towards elimination but affected how staff were forced to adjust their behavior to work in this environment. To address ragging, there is a need to adhere to a consistent strategy focusing on increasing awareness and supporting staff by holding accountable those at all levels of the administrative hierarchy in promoting a safe working environment for all.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2023.
Keywords [en]
ragging, bullying, violence, university staff, public health, Southeast Asia, Foucault, discourse analysis, moral disengagement
National Category
Other Medical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488178DOI: 10.1080/09584935.2023.2227113ISI: 001012943100001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-488178DiVA, id: diva2:1709799
Funder
Uppsala UniversityAvailable from: 2022-11-09 Created: 2022-11-09 Last updated: 2023-08-17
In thesis
1. The Phenomenon of Ragging: Violence among University students in Sri Lanka
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Phenomenon of Ragging: Violence among University students in Sri Lanka
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Ragging is an initiation ritual carried out in Sri Lankan universities, where new students are harassed by senior students. This practice has severe adverse consequences including depression, increased university dropouts and suicide. Although this is a significant public health problem and a burden on the country, research on ragging is scarce.

This thesis aimed to investigate and gain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of ragging, through the various perspectives of students and individuals attached to the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The prevalence of Major depressive disorder (MDD) among the students was also examined. 

Paper I, a cross-sectional survey, demonstrated that 59% of the students from the faculties of Medicine and Technology experienced ragging. Health consequences were experienced by 54% and help was mainly sought from friends and family. The student’s faculty and year of study was associated with ragging.

In Paper II, 17 focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted with students representing all faculties. Thematic analysis was employed to navigate through the theoretical lenses of structural violence, intersectionality, and social dominance. Findings revealed students used ragging as an expression of power to initiate order and express dissatisfaction towards social inequalities. Students trivialized violence despite being aware of the dire consequences.

In Paper III, 11 semi-structured interviews and seven FDGs were conducted with staff and work-affiliated individuals at the university. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis and Bandura’s Moral Disengagement theory were utilized to interpret the findings. The main discourses were; Ragging as normal and necessary, Insecurity and fear of reprisal, and Voices of resistance. Participants felt unsupported and in order to survive in this insecure environment, they adapted their moral judgments.

In Paper IV, Patient Health Questionnaires (PHQ-9) were used to screen for MDD among students (n=637), from Faculties of Management, Science and Medicine. MDD was experienced by 31% of students. Among all the student participants, 70% had experienced some form of depression ranging from mild to severe. MDD was associated with the student’s ethnicity.

Interventions targeting both individual and multisectoral levels are needed in order to curb ragging, and create a safe and nurturing environment for all. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2022. p. 74
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 1887
Keywords
hazing; harassment; abuse; violence; university students; public health; South Asia; Students; Depression; Mental health
National Category
Other Medical Sciences
Research subject
Medical Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488180 (URN)978-91-513-1661-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-01-18, Sal XI, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-12-21 Created: 2022-11-09 Last updated: 2023-08-18

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Wickramasinghe, AyanthiEssén, BirgittaTrenholm, Jill E.Axemo, Pia

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